For a small lathe, or starter lathe, not bad at all.

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Review by Tennessee posted 06-11-2013 07:28 PM 7712 views 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
For a small lathe, or starter lathe, not bad at all. No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I have owned a Powermatic 3520B for quite a few years, with a Stronghold chuck and a fair amount of extra tools. One thing I kept noticing, it just wasn’t that good for small things. Hard to move around those big tool rests, and I just could not get myself to pay somebody $78 for a six inch tool rest. Plus, I hated to take off the Stronghold every time I wanted to do something smaller.

Since I had an empty small bench right next to it, I started looking into a small lathe, one I could do things like small chime strikers, guitar knobs, etc. After looking at a number of models, I decided to pop for the HF 65345. It was $194, and with a 20% coupon, $155 before tax. Not bad.

The lathe setup was very easy. Simply put in the tailstock live center, clean off a little grease, set the speed and go. One thing I did check right off the bat – as soon as I got it home, I put in the spur center and the tailstock live center and moved them together to see if they were true – they were – point on.

As usual, I think the motor will be slightly undersized, but I didn’t buy this to do 8” bowls on. I bought it for smaller projects, along with the middle of the road HF lathe tools so I could leave a set under it. All in all, a pretty good setup for about $200 with tax, lathe and tools together.

What I like about it:
1. Fairly quiet, and passed the nickel test, no problems.
2. Easy to move tailstock and tool rest.
3. Nice headstock hand wheel.
4. Didn’t even have to bolt it down. (At least not yet)
5. Motor seems to be a little stronger than I initially thought.
6. Enough room underneath it to store a few tools on the same bench while working.
7. Nice speed belt, looks to be a urethane multi-ribbed belt.

What I don’t like about it:
1. For sure, the biggest thing is the speed change. What a PITA. With the upper door on the backside, it makes it almost impossible to change without climbing over the thing. Thinking about leaving off the doors completely, if I thought the belt could take the dust and chips. And the lower one is kind of buried up in the casting. Small hands here!
2. Two inch tailstock movement. Almost a waste. And the tightening of the tailstock shaft is awkward, at least with the lever again on the backside.
3. No chuck that I know of currently sold by Harbor Freight fits the 1X8TPI threads on the headstock. I recently purchased a Grizzly H7605 1X8TPI four jaw reversible I am waiting on, $70 shipped. You need a chuck if you want to do anything serious. Spur chucks have their place, but nothing like a real chuck.

Overall, this lathe is a great addition to anyone who wants to get into smaller lathed items for not a lot of money. I know it is slightly cheaper made than the Rockler, Jet, etc., but it runs smooth, has five speeds from 750 up to 3200, and when you remember you can add on a set of those medium sized HF lathe tools, (with another 20% coupon), for around $36, that package is a great starter package, under $200. Add a decent face shield and you are ready to go!

The only reason I knocked it down a star is due to the speed change. I thought about a speed controller, but short of a VSD, you usually lose too much torque with those cheapo controllers, and torque is a biggee on lathe motors.

If you are in the market for a lathe, you could do worse for a small, beginner unit.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3367 days

15 comments so far

View DocSavage45's profile


9017 posts in 3695 days

#1 posted 06-11-2013 08:23 PM

I have the floor model. Need to figure out how to sharpen my HSS chisels first. Safety first. I think they have improved in the area of fit and finish. especially for the cost.

I find that I don’t like the motor placement as it appears it will limit the diameter of turnings.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 3814 days

#2 posted 06-11-2013 09:43 PM

What is the warranty? I think it is only 90 days. I had a HF #37406 and the Reeves drive stuck. I couldn’t get it to work. Scrapped it. I bought a Rikon 70-050VS and love it. It is being replaced by an upgrade. Got a deal plus a 5 year warranty.

View PurpLev's profile


8587 posts in 4501 days

#3 posted 06-11-2013 09:46 PM

sounds like a good deal

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Acelectric's profile


31 posts in 2749 days

#4 posted 06-11-2013 09:53 PM

I recently purchased this lathe’s little brother, #95607, for turning pens. So far it has worked really well. And with a coupon I got it for under a hundred bucks.

-- Thank goodness I don’t do this for a living, because I would surely starve.

View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3901 days

#5 posted 06-11-2013 10:59 PM

Good review.
I have the bigger brother that I rarely use.

-- Bert

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3367 days

#6 posted 06-12-2013 05:29 PM

I think the warranty is 90 days, but they offered me a one or two year add-on for (can’t remember exactly), $24 and $39? I passed.
For the lousy $155, if it binds up I’ll take it apart myself and have it reamed at a local shop I know, or replace bearings or whatever. Can’t be that much in there. Good thought to keep some oil on the bearings, though.
Doc, agree with you on the motor on the floor model. Wonder what they were thinking?

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Swede's profile


191 posts in 3871 days

#7 posted 06-12-2013 09:49 PM

I bought one a year ago and havent taken time to try it. To many other projects.
I put mine on a table with wheels it makes it easer to get to the back.

I hope you use yours.

-- Swede -- time to make some sawdust

View All10fingers's profile


17 posts in 2757 days

#8 posted 06-13-2013 01:58 AM

Wait a minute. Did you really say “empty” bench? I don’t think I’ve heard a woodworker say that! You could speak at conferences and tell us how you managed such a miracle :)

-- "Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you" Carl Jung

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3101 days

#9 posted 06-13-2013 01:17 PM

I spent a lot of time with a few of these. I can’t say I would recommend it after using it regularly. Fortunately I purchased the 2 year plan. Here is my experience over the 9 months I owned this lathe:

First one lasted a month. I noticed the motor got super hot after turning. Finally it started making noises. I brought it back

Second one was much better. It didn’t get half as hot, so my first was obviously defective. However no matter what I tried, I could never get the tail stock and head stock in alignment. The tail stock was a bit lower. Back to the store for a new one

Third one had a combination of both issues. Back to the store. At this point they just offered me the larger lathe at an even exchange. Aside from being a reeves drive, I really like it and so far it has been solid.

In addition, the quick release handles on the tool rest and tail stock ram will break after about 10 to 20 uses. Keep a flathead screwdriver nearby. This happened consistently on all 3 of the units I had.


View PurpLev's profile


8587 posts in 4501 days

#10 posted 06-13-2013 01:25 PM

Ouch Joe… but yeah – thats why HF is cheaper than the others, cause you have to calculate your drive/pack/unpack/exchange/return times for defective units.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Tomoose's profile


422 posts in 4226 days

#11 posted 06-13-2013 10:59 PM

Nice writeup, Paul. I have this same unit and I can tell you from experience the belt cannot handle the dust/chips. I left the PITA covers off for “ease” of speed changes and ended up with a split, and finally broken belt. The comes 1. trying to get a replacement belt, and 2. have fun taking the whole thing apart trying to replace the belt. I have to believe changing the belt on higher-end lathes is easier than it would be on this one.

I took it back under warranty for a new lathe, and that one has been working great for a year now with a decent amount of my use/abuse as a rookie turner.


-- “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” Pablo Picasso

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3367 days

#12 posted 06-14-2013 12:46 PM

Joe, lousy luck, for sure.
Yesterday I made three pieces on it for some chimes, and it performed well. The motor did not heat up. I might have been fortunate to get one that the tailstock and headstock are point on.
I received my Grizzly H7605 3” chuck, spun it on and it worked well. Added a lot of versatility to the lathe. Not a real fan of spur chucks.
Tom, I get your point about the belt. Right now, my covers are off and I look in there every so often to see if chips are getting on the belt. So far, the stuff I am doing on this is pretty small, so no chips so far, but I should put the belt covers back on since I only made one speed change yesterday. Small stuff you can start pretty fast and keep it there through what you want, so-so. We’ll see how the handles hold up. Right now, my biggest gripe is the chrome locking handle on the tailstock. I don’t like it on the back, and you cannot reverse it to the front due to the way the tailstock is drilled. It also needed some adjustment on the locking disc on the bottom, but that’s pretty common for locking units on lathe beds.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View planeBill's profile


506 posts in 3261 days

#13 posted 06-19-2013 03:59 PM

nice review. I have the same lathe and like it a lot. It is however my first and only lathe so I have no knowledge of what a good lathe really is. The tailpiece and headstock do line up spot on and it has decent power and runs smooth and quiet, is great for tool handles and small items like that which is why I bought it. Ive had no problems what so ever with it. The motor does not get hot either.Im real happy with it and the cheapo turning chisels from HF too. I think its just the ticket for people like me who are wanting to try their hand at turning to see if they like it.

-- I was born at a very young age, as I grew up, I got older.

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1926 posts in 2822 days

#14 posted 09-19-2013 11:00 AM

Hey paul I was wondering how that lathe is holding up for you. I haven’t ever turned a single thing in my life and I was looking at this guy to maybe get started on, making drawer pulls and what not.

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View themelster's profile


12 posts in 2780 days

#15 posted 10-29-2013 02:58 AM

I purchased this same unit about a yr ago. I took a turning class at woodcraft first to see if I would like to pursue turning… yep. I am still working on upgrading wheels on my ryobi bench grinder so I can sharpen my tools. Had to find stainless steel bushings for the new wheels those finally came in the mail. Got the one way chuck system and 1 X 8 TPI ONEWAY Talon Chuck Insert. Have the wolverine jig for sharpening. Picked up an adjustabel stand from Menards put a wide board across top and now I can get height right for me. Turning is expensive, just takes time to get what you need. Waiting now for wheels. I may be able to turn some Christmas ornaments for 2013 yet.

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